How I learned to stop worrying and love government shutdowns
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by Mike DeVine
President Obama’s blindness to the government spending problem — and insistence on ever more tax increases on the rich toward, always moving the “fair share” goalposts — makes refusal of the Republican House to raise the debt ceiling an acceptable option.
In the wake of the 2010 tea partier conservative epic mid-term election landslide that returned control of the House of Representatives to the GOP, this columnist urged Republicans to risk a government shutdown during the 2010 budget negotiations as more palatable than risking “default” during the likely debt ceiling battle the following year.
Speaker John Boehner and majorities of the Republican House shrunk from both battles. They agreeed to enable Democrat Senate budget phobia in 2010 and a mindless Medicare/Defense “sequester” in 2011 which led the recently “resolved” fiscal cliff deal, despite President Obama’s refusal to re-visit scheduled military cuts deemed “disastrous” by his own defense secretary, Leon Panetta, who said:
We — we cannot — we cannot maintain a strong defense for this country if sequester is allowed to happen.
The Fiscal Cliff deal put off the defense disaster for two months but did make the Bush Income Tax Rates permanent for most Americans in exchange for President Barack Obama’s demand that the “rich pay their fair share” by allowing the lower Bush rates to expire for those earning over $400-450K/year.
However, before the ink was dry on the auto-pen (while Obama was wet in Hawaiian waters) signed-bill, the President moved the goalposts on taxes again with the release of a campaign-style video aimed at holding the sequestration-mandated defense cuts as a Sword of Damocles over Republican heads:
President Obama cut a video, distributed by his reelection [sic] [campaign], to reiterate his belief that the wealthiest Americans still aren’t paying their ‘fair share’ of taxes and to outline a second-term agenda ranging from environmental policy to gun control.
Obama started by celebrating the tax increases — ‘making our tax code more progressive than it’s been in decades,’ he said — that will take place because of the fiscal cliff deal.
‘Obviously, there is still more to do when it comes to reducing our debt,’ Obama said in the video. ‘And I’m willing to do more, as long as we do it in a balanced way that doesn’t put all the burden on seniors or students or middle class families, but also asks the wealthiest Americans to contribute and pay their fair share.’
But adding insult to injury, we learned yesterday that throughout the fiscal cliff negotiations President Obama repeatedly told Speaker Boehner that, “We don’t have a spending problem“:
The president’s insistence that Washington doesn’t have a spending problem, Mr. Boehner says, is predicated on the belief that massive federal deficits stem from what Mr. Obama called ‘a health-care problem.’ Mr. Boehner says that after he recovered from his astonishment—’They blame all of the fiscal woes on our health-care system’—he replied: ‘Clearly we have a health-care problem, which is about to get worse with ObamaCare. But, Mr. President, we have a very serious spending problem.’ He repeated this message so often, he says, that toward the end of the negotiations, the president became irritated and said: ‘I’m getting tired of hearing you say that.’
America held hostage by an irresponsibly reckless and re-elected ideologue who craves craves continuous crises
This conservative has had enough of a Chief Executive that refuses to responsibly address our dangerous debt and anemic so-called recovery and the ongoing gargantuan level of resulting poverty in America. We hope that the Speaker and a majority of House Republicans understand that the risk from being blamed for a crisis resulting from a refusal to raise the debt ceiling absent serious and significant spending cuts (that can only be had on the entitlement side of the budget) is outweighed by the risks of not addressing the ongoing debt/poverty/jobs crisis, now over four years old, that could precipitate market panic even if the debt ceiling were raised.
The Republicans, even including former President George W. Bush, got blamed for the poor economy by an electoral majority of Americans despite the fact that Obama and the Democrats got their stimulus, Obamacare and financial “reforms” passed; and despite the failure of the post-tea partier election landslide House to exert its constitutional power of the purse. Maybe Republicans were justified in their risk-averse strategy before America re-hired Obama; but America is at risk and this conservative would rather lose future elections having tried to save the nation rather than trying to pursue a strategy thought less likely to have the In-the-tank-for-Obama blame us for the inevitable Natural Law result of our present course.
Republicans can easily make clear their support for means-testing entitlements, changing the cost-of-living index for benefits to reflect the price of goods, raising the retirement age, and repealing unpopular tax and regulatory provisions of Obamacare that raise the deficit; and calling out the President on moral grounds for his “default” scare tactics, as Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) did last Sunday:
Let me be clear, I do not support default on the debt and we should never default on the debt and the only players who are threatening to default are President Obama and Harry Reid. This is an issue, and earlier in the show you played the President threatening default. In any given month tax revenue are 200 billion and interest is 30 or 40 billion. There is it plenty of revenue to service the debt and any responsible President would’ve stood at that podium and said ‘whatever happens with the debt ceiling, we will always pay our debt. We’ll never default on the debt’ and the reason the President isn’t doing that is he’s trying to scare people and raise the specter of financial apocalypse.”
It probably wouldn’t hurt to remind Americans that President Obama made this same threat before the last debt ceiling deal in 2011, which also included threats against Social Security checks and the salaries of our armed forces.
Given such an irresponsible President that would likely play debt ceiling-chicken more recklessly than James Dean in Rebel Without a Cause, Republicans should go into the abyss with their eyes wide open. And if the debt ceiling is not raised for very long, there would be draconian cutbacks that would hurt citizens. But absent compromise legislation that seriously addresses out of control spending, which would necessarily also cause pain to the same current entitlement beneficiaries, a financial crisis that would impose such suffering would only be a matter of time.
The fact is that we are in a crisis now, and have been for years, but refuse to act. Natural Law and Obama’s reforms are acting now to keep millions of Americans in crisis. Maybe its time for the rest of America to join them so a consensus can emerge to end the vacation from reality and re-build an America that could one day be exceptional again.
We can’t wait two, much less four, years for Republicans to somehow re-gain power and the courage to solve our huge problems. Let’s muster the courage now to confront Obama and get to the other side of the abyss where reconstruction is possible. Time and people’s lives are a wasting.
“One man with courage makes a majority.” – Andrew Jackson